Their grandfather was said to be Nazi Germany’s richest man after building a weapons empire on the backs of slave labor.
Their father was involved in one of postwar Germany’s biggest political scandals. He almost frittered away the family fortune.
Enough remained for Viktoria-Katharina Flick and twin brother Karl-Friedrich Flick to lay claim, at 19, to being the world’s youngest billionaires. Each has $1.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Behind the riches, discreetly managed by their family office in Austria, lies a dark history of one of Germany’s wealthiest industrial dynasties.
The Flicks’ wealth traces its roots to Friedrich Flick, who spent three years in prison after he was convicted by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal of using slave labor to produce armaments for the Nazis, among other crimes. He created a steel empire, which expanded by seizing companies in Nazi-occupied territories and in Germany through Aryanizations—the expropriation and forced sale of Jewish-owned businesses. As many as 40,000 laborers may have died working for Flick companies, according to a study of his Nazi-era businesses published in 2008.
Flick was released from prison in 1950, after the U.S. high commissioner for Germany granted controversial pardons to German industrialists. The U.S. and U.K. returned his money and business properties, including one Aryanized asset. He sold his coal businesses and invested the proceeds in numerous companies, including Daimler-Benz AG, eventually becoming the carmaker’s biggest shareholder.
“Leaving aside all moral standards, Friedrich Flick had the genius ability to become the richest person in Germany—twice,” said Thomas Ramge, author of “The Flicks,” a family history.
Other German business dynasties whose fortunes partly stem from the Nazi era, such as the Quandts and the Oetkers—and even some Flick family members—have made some form of restitution for using slave labor. Friedrich Flick and his youngest son, who became sole owner of the conglomerate, never did.
Friedrich Flick maintained his innocence and said that he had neither a legal nor a moral obligation to pay restitution. The son “just didn’t have the intellectual ambition to deal with the complexity of German history and how his family was involved,” Ramge said.
That son, Friedrich Karl Flick, took the reins of the family business upon his father’s death in 1972. He became sole owner of what was then Germany’s largest closely held conglomerate after buying out three family members in 1975. He also sold the remaining Aryanized asset, the Luebeck blast furnaces in northern Germany, to U.S. Steel Corp. that year.
In the 1980s, he was mired in a scandal involving illegal political donations that led to the resignations of Germany’s minister of economics and the parliamentary president. Friedrich Karl Flick denied knowledge of the payments and was not indicted. In 1987, his closest associate was fined for tax evasion and given a suspended jail sentence.
Friedrich Karl Flick sold the businesses to Deutsche Bank AG for 5.36 billion deutsche marks ($2.17 billion) in 1985, at the height of the scandal. After that, he withdrew from public life.
Almost a decade later, Flick moved to Austria, home of his third wife, Ingrid Ragger, 32 years his junior. They met while she was working as a hotel receptionist in a ski resort. He died in 2006, when Viktoria-Katharina and Karl-Friedrich, her younger brother by a minute, were 7 years old.
He “retreated to a safe mix of stocks, bonds, real estate and whatnot,” Ramge said in an interview. “Although there was still plenty to leave to the twins and his two other daughters.” When Flick died, he left behind $1 billion for each child, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Today the twins’ fortune is overseen by the Flick Privatstiftung, a Vienna- and Velden am Woerthersee, Austria-based family office. Stefan Weiser, a board member, declined to comment on Bloomberg’s tally of the family wealth.
“As we are a single-family office we do not divulge any details to outsiders,” Weiser said in an email. The twins were not made available for interviews. Their two half-sisters, Alexandra Butz, 50, and Elisabeth von Auersperg-Breunner, 44, from Friedrich Karl Flick’s second marriage, are based in Munich and Austria. The sisters’ net worth is also $1.8 billion each. They declined to comment.
The twins’ lives have remained intensely private; no photographs of them have gone public. Karl-Friedrich won a regional junior sabre-fencing title in 2017. Little is known about his sister.
Their mother has said she tried to make their childhoods as normal as possible.
“They’ve been getting pocket money since second grade, age-appropriate, not more than their friends,’’ Ingrid Flick told Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung in 2009. “This is how they’ll learn how to deal with money and its significance. I want them to be no different from their friends.”
Ingrid Flick once said she withheld a credit card from her teenage daughter, telling Germany’s Bunte magazine: “The kids have to learn that they’re nothing special, but that the name Flick obliges.”
The twins attended public high school in southern Austria, yet they’ve grown up with the trappings of wealth. When they were 13, they moved into their own villa on the grounds of Ingrid Flick’s Austrian estate. The residence had a disco, a playground and a tennis court, according to the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung. The court was inaugurated by Ilie Nastase, a former world No. 1-ranked player.
They leave the management of their money to three executives with decades of experience in wealth management, investment banking and legal affairs. The investment goals of the family office seem modest. Friedrich Karl Flick’s goal was a 4 percent annual return after taxes, inflation and expenses. “Sounds little, doesn’t it?” he told Austria’s Trend magazine in 1998.
Yet even in death, Friedrich Karl Flick couldn’t escape the family’s notoriety. In 2008, grave robbers removed a coffin containing his body from a mausoleum in the lakeside town of Velden. They demanded a 6 million euro ($7.5 million at the time) ransom. Three men were convicted in the case. Flick’s remains were later recovered in Hungary and reburied in Austria.
“Finally, my husband is back home,” Ingrid Flick told Bunte magazine. “The hope and fear is over. The prayers were answered.”
RE: Administrative arrogance in light of 1st & 6th Amendment guarantees
Dear Court Clerk/Administrator.
I am in possession of ZOOM instructions from your office to the public regarding witnessing courtroom proceedings, of necessity, in an era of pandemic contagion. I have file attached a PDF copy of the same to eliminate any ambiguity and for clarification. See below.
As a citizen and American, I am particularly offended by the chutzpah contained in the sentence instructing the public they may NOT record, capture, or ‘journal’ said proceedings via the ZOOM session in the relative comfort and privacy of their own homes, et al. This is blatantly inconsistent with 1st and 6th Amendment guarantees including (but not limited to) freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the right to complete transparency in each and every step of a legal proceeding in a court of law. I am personally familiar with Thurston County’s pattern of violating these legal standards and fundamental liberties.
It is not by largesse or grace your office makes these sessions available to the public, but by Constitutional mandate and the obvious threat of pandemic contagion. You may be able to arrogantly throw the weight of what remains of the King’s Court around during sessions defined by the 4 walls of the courtroom or in personam/subject matter jurisdiction, but you have NO authority to prohibit journaling a PUBLIC proceeding outside those 4 walls or as to people who are not litigants/witnesses. Your office publicly broadcasts these sessions because it HAS to. Moreover, you yourselves record them and make them available to any member of the public who can afford a copy. Thus, not only does your office lack the dictatorial authority you seek, but no one in that courtroom has any expectation of privacy.
Please allow me one further, but simple clarification: If you think you can stop/prevent me or any other citizen from capturing/recording the ZOOM sessions your office broadcasts, you can kiss my hairy ass! I shall endeavor to enlighten the rest of the general public as to the limits of your arrogance/misapprehensions/incompetence and encourage them to follow suit in challenging it.
“A lot of people blame cruelty on dehumanization. They say that when you fail to appreciate the humanity of other people, that’s where genocide and slavery and all sorts of evils come from. I don’t think that’s entirely wrong. I think a lot of real awful things we do to other people arise from the fact that we don’t see them as people.
But the argument I make in my New York article is that it’s incomplete. A lot of the cruelty we do to one another, the real savage, rotten terrible things we do to one another, are in fact because we recognize the humanity of the other person.
We see other people as blameworthy, as morally responsible, as themselves cruel, as not giving us what we deserve, as taking more than they deserve. And so we treat them horribly precisely because we see them as moral human beings.”
Dana, Thank you for asking. It’s a huge problem poised on the rotting foundation of 1st Amendment guarantees. You’ve experienced and been to court over it. So have I. People are dying in the streets over it today.
Almost half of my articles are now dedicated to conflicts surrounding free speech/censorship and 5th estate journalism in all its many forms. If the Civil War was fought, at least in part, over slavery, its contemporary manifestation is playing out in pitched battles between fully armed opposing camps struggling over who can exercise inalienable 1st Amendment rights, or whether the same is now a dead letter in all but name only.
Before the mid-80’s, copyright disputes were purely civil actions that could only be tried in Federal courts because of their exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter. But everybody’s favorite boy nerd destined to become, for a time, the world’s wealthiest man, created a programming language called BASIC embedded on paper tape cassettes. Floppy disks hadn’t been invented yet, but Bill dropped out of Harvard after 2 years to pursue his career as a software tycoon…and soon, Microsoft was born. He never returned.
Bill’s father was a successful lawyer, his mother the director of United Way, and his grandfather the head of a national bank. He attended the best private schools his family’s wealth could buy.
Bill Gates’ post-Harvard path led him to develop BASIC as a programming language (essentially a series of recipes, algorithms/instructions for a machine…NOT a human!) for a PC known as an ALTAIR 8800. Before Gates, mathematical formulas, recipes (which is why books containing them are so relatively inexpensive), ideas, instructions, typing, or sweat of the brow couldn’t be copyrighted.
Truman Capote once panned Jack Kerouac’s book ON THE ROAD, said by its author to have been typed at one sitting, with “That’s not writing. That’s typing.” A Federal judge dismissed a copyright lawsuit brought against an alleged infringer who had distributed phone numbers from his purchase of an exhaustive set of discs purporting to have virtually every residential phone number in America when she opined/ruled copyright did not extend to sweat of the brow no matter how laborious.
In reality, Gates and Allen did not have an Altair and had not written code for it; they merely wanted to gauge MITS’s (the PC’s manufacturer) interest. Microsoft’s Altair BASIC became popular with computer hobbyists, but Gates discovered that a pre-market copy had leaked out and was being widely copied and distributed. In February 1976, he wrote an Open Letter to Hobbyists in the MITS newsletter in which he asserted that more than 90% of the users of Microsoft Altair BASIC had not paid Microsoft for it and the Altair “hobby market” was in danger of eliminating the incentive for any professional developers to produce, distribute, and maintain high-quality software. This letter was unpopular with many computer hobbyists, but Gates persisted in his belief that software developers should be able to demand payment.
The spoiled little rich kid had plenty of powerful connections including Congressmen on Capital Hill where he has served as a page in the House of Representatives. Almost single handedly, he succeeded in transmuting copyright law from a civil action to the gold of criminal litigation where Federal jurisdiction was no longer exclusive. What was once a tort, but not a crime, became punishable by prison shepherded through the halls of Congress by Bill’s wealth and influence. Holders of Microsoft stock subsequently became multimillionaires. A 20th Century anachronism became a cudgel and the enemy of 1st Amendment principles. Yours truly can be found in the annals of Washington case law precedent circa mid 80’s contributing to the criminalization of copyright violations.
But here’s a singularly most interesting footnote to the spoiled brat whining about what he insisted on calling copyright ‘theft’:
At 13, he (Bill) enrolled in the private Lakeside prep school. When he was in the eighth grade, the Mothers’ Club at the school used proceeds from Lakeside School’s rummage sale to buy a Teletype Model 33 ASR terminal and a block of computer time on a General Electric (GE) computer for the students. Gates took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC, and he was excused from math classes to pursue his interest. He wrote his first computer program on this machine, an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allowed users to play games against the computer.
Gates was fascinated by the machine and how it would always execute software code perfectly. After the Mothers Club donation was exhausted, Gates and other students sought time on systems including DEC PDP minicomputers. One of these systems was a PDP-10 belonging to Computer Center Corporation (CCC) which banned for the summer Gates, Paul Allen, Ric Weiland, and Gates’s best friend and first business partner Kent Evans, after it caught them exploiting bugs in the operating system to obtain free computer time.
Yeah, the rich kid who became the world’s wealthiest man due, at least in part, to labeling his peers as thieves started out stealing expensive computer time from his school while in league with his partners in crime. Naturally criminal prosecution was out of the question for the scions, but a poor Black kid would have been taken to juvenile hall for shoplifting a candy bar.
Bill’s bill criminalizing copyright violations was followed by the DMCA (Digital Millennial Copyright Act) passed on 10-12-1998 at the height of the Dot Com Bubble. This 20th century anachronism sought to protect Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and digital Hosts from copyright complaint liability if they’d take down the disputed content within 24 hours. To be sure, the Act provided for a counter claim appeal, but virtually all U.S. Hosts and Providers went for the low hanging fruit as a cost saving measure, many not even providing any notice or explanation (SYNC) to their patrons before destroying their account and files, let alone provide an avenue for challenging false DMCA complaints. The upshot has been the streetwise have recognized what a convenient weapon false DMCA complaints are to harass a publisher for publishing what the miscreant doesn’t want the public to know.
One would think, given the non-stop eulogizing of U.S. free speech rights and unimpeded journalism, the right to speak/write/document/publish one’s opinion would thrive in America more than any other land. Not so! The DMCA and mobs roaming our streets at night make it not so. Tangentially, the police antipathy toward the press, who the cops also attack with regularity, can only be exacerbated by the news 3 dozen Chicago street gangs have joined in a threat to summarily execute any cop they see/videotape drawing their weapon on the street.
As it so happens, in contrast, many offshore nation states provide, in practice, MORE freedom to publish and expression, MORE protection of online privacy and file content. These include, but are not limited to the likes of Mexico, Spain, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Cuba. While said jurisdictions honor international agreements/treaties protecting intellectual property, they provide greater leeway to freedom of the press (especially the 5th estate) than does the U.S. or England. They respect fair use principals and many won’t even acknowledge a non-commercial copyright complaint at all. Even China has copyright laws it enforces though one can’t imagine it cooperating with the U.S. just now. Their services are also cheaper and frequently more secure/reliable.
We all stand on the shoulders of giants who preceded us. The 20th century anachronism of ill conceived U.S. copyright law now acts as a bulwark against progress in the age of information at light speed. It does little to protect artists and writers, but much to enrich corporate balance sheets. The displaced orthodoxy of soap boxes in town squares and public parks has been replaced by new 21st century commons consisting of online social media gathering spots such as FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Tic Tock, MySpace, etc. Indeed, while these powerful amplifiers reach hundreds of millions instantly, they’ve also become our new masters encouraging the most insidious form of all censorship: Self Censorship!
Congress has granted these titans virtual immunity from liability under the guise of common carrier status, reasoning tens of millions of daily posts can’t be monitored the way a periodical edits its articles. Yet these behemoths not only appropriate our most personal data/interests far beyond even government’s reach, but enrich themselves in so doing while stifling every American who ventures into these modern day commons.
There is a fatuous argument that 1st Amendment guarantees only protect against government censorship, leaving employers, online/street mobs, Karens, SJW’s, and digital witch hunts to do so with abandon and impunity. Photography, for instance, isn’t a crime, but you wouldn’t know it given how often photojournalists are openly attacked today in the streets–to the point some are now arming themselves for their own protection. This was largely unheard of until relatively recently. Now, a street photographer would be foolish to go alone or unarmed.
After all, only a small fraction of our communications are directed to/from government agencies. While no one doubts your front room, hallway, or bedroom/kitchen is your own to control, this does not (nor should it) extend to the commons whether technically ‘owned’ by a private party/company or not. See the PRUNEYARD case which arose and was litigated in California for further analysis.
Starbuck’s may own the table and seats, but are you going to tolerate their dictating what course your conversation may take while you brunch with your familiar? 1st Amendment principles are hollow if they cannot enter these modern day commons of social discourse. As the justices found the penumbra of the U.S. Constitution extended the right of privacy to a pregnant woman in Roe vs. Wade without explicitly saying as much, so too the penumbra of our U.S. and State Constitutions should extend our 1st Amendment natural rights into every commons where the public gathers, whether privately held or no, whether online or in the light of day. Any other paradigm is a pretext for the thought police.
Similarly, copyright, at least as we’ve currently constructed it in the U.S., is the antithesis and enemy of the press, particularly the 5th estate. The Gorgons of the internet who bludgeon citizens and the press with specious DMCA claims are choking the the life out of a democracy dependent on a fully informed electorate as surely as a similarly arrogant badged monster did to George Floyd.
It’s a bitter pill when we can more easily seek these freedoms abroad than in our own home in America.
It’s said: Live by the sword die by the sword. Did Law enforcement and politicians create this environment by giving officers enormous powers without holding them accountable for police brutality? In order for civil society to work there needs to be trust between civilians and government. When that trust is broken–horrible things will happen.
by Zak Cheney-Rice
Much of the recent debate about policing’s excesses involves a clash of two viewpoints: one claiming that there is something structurally and culturally wrong with American law enforcement that encourages immoral behavior, and another that attributes their worst conduct to “bad apples,” rogue individuals whose actions speak for them alone and do not indict their fellow officers or their profession as a whole. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department provides a helpful literalization of the former point: an entire law-enforcement entity whose members regularly join criminal gangs, earn clout by harassing, assaulting, and killing county residents, and retaliate against their colleagues who dare to oppose them.
[Don’t forget theRampart Divisionof the LA Sheriff scandal some years ago where an entire contingent was engaged in planting evidence, perjury, false arrests, robbing drug dealers, and murder!]
Sworn testimony made in June by a whistleblower, Deputy Art Gonzalez, details a pattern of such behavior inside the Compton sheriff’s station, which exists as part of the Southern California city’s partnership with the county sheriff to provide local law enforcement. Gonzalez claimed that Deputy Miguel Vega, who shot 18-year-old Andres Guardado during a June incident that sparked protests, was a prospective member of the Executioners, a dozen or so deputies who allegedly operate as a gang — setting illegal arrest quotas, threatening work slowdowns if they don’t get their desired shift assignments, assaulting their fellow deputies, and holding parties to celebrate when their members shoot or kill someone in the line of duty, the Los Angeles Times reports. The existence of the Executioners is “common knowledge” within the department, Gonzalez said, according to Spectrum News 1, which obtained a transcript of his testimony this week. Decades of harassment and violence at the hands of the Compton office — including one 2019 incident where the city’s mayor, Aja Brown, claims to have been ordered out of her car by more than half a dozen deputies and searched for drugs that she did not possess — have led the city to propose severing ties with the department altogether, a proposal that the Executioners revelations stand to accelerate. According to the whistleblower complaint, Deputy Vega, who shot Guardado six times in the back, was “chasing ink” — a term used to describe efforts to impress the Executioners in order to be drafted into their ranks and obtain their signature tattoo: a skeleton backed by flames, brandishing a rifle and wearing a Nazi-style helmet.
Part of what makes this dynamic notable is how ordinary it is. Though the central allegation is that the Executioners “dominate” the Compton sheriff’s office, at least nine other such gangs are known to operate across the department, and have done so for decades. “Vikings, Reapers, Regulators, Little Devils, Cowboys, 2000 Boys and 3000 Boys, Jump Out Boys, and most recently the Banditos and the Executioners,” Matthew Burson, chief of the department’s professional standard division, told KABC last month of the LASD’s gang problem. “I am absolutely sickened by the mere allegation of any deputy hiding behind their badges to hurt anyone.” Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said he intends to fire or suspend more than two dozen deputies involved in a widely covered assault on four non-gang members at an off-duty party in 2018. Villanueva was elected under immense pressure to clean up the department, whose former heads — Lee Baca and his undersheriff, Paul Tanaka — were convicted of obstructing a federal probe of abuses in the county’s jail. Tanaka was an alleged member of the Lynwood Vikings, a white supremacist sheriff’s gang. Villanueva has also said that he will implement measures to discourage deputies from joining these cliques at all, but county Inspector General Max Huntsman said last month that he’d seen no evidence of this actually happening. The fallout has been costly on several fronts. Since 2010, misconduct claims linked to these sheriff’s gangs have cost the county $21 million in settlements and associated legal costs, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It’s hard to make sense of this phenomenon without acknowledging that discrete individual malfeasance is insufficient for explaining its scope and longevity. The existence of ten or more gangs operating within the law-enforcement agency that patrols America’s most populous county, and whose members have occupied its highest ranks, indicates a level of tolerance and normalization that cannot be isolated to any one person, and a scale of public danger that cannot be calculated in mere dollar amounts or police shooting statistics. These gangs have been implicated in sustaining an environment of terror, and are regularly celebrated and rewarded for it. Their existence, and seeming intractability, are stark manifestations of the ways that American law-enforcement agencies operate as fraternities the nation over, with less regard for public partnership than for capitalizing upon their own impunity. This is perhaps most evident in the conduct of police unions. But survey any heavily patrolled community and it becomes clear that the existence of police gangs are not necessary to promote illegal arrest quotas, work slowdowns, or internal plaudits for acts of brutality — though gangs are an especially brazen way of formalizing them. This is simply the reality of policing.
It is also incompatible with the arguments made by champions of “bad apple” theory — chief among them President Trump, who this week equated killings by police to having a bad golf game. “The police are under siege,” he said during a Monday interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham. He continued:
They can do 10,000 great acts — which is what they do — and one bad apple. Or, you know, a choker. They choke. Shooting a guy in the back many times — I mean, couldn’t you have done something different, couldn’t you have wrestled him, you know? I mean, in the meantime, he might’ve been going for a weapon, there’s a whole big thing there. But they choke. Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot put —
“You’re not comparing it to golf,” Ingraham interrupted, denying what Trump was literally doing. “I’m saying, people choke,” he replied. “People choke.”
Framed in this way — which, despite its trivialization of homicide, is an apt distillation of what is commonly being asserted when people argue that police abuse is aberrant and discrete — the inadequacy of this explanation is made obvious. It’s also cynical. Trump has pegged much of his reelection campaign’s success to a performative support of the police, lying that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, wants to defund them, and characterizing calls to rein in officer misconduct as unduly prohibitive, even as he’s promoted better credentialing and data-keeping practices. Officers have reveled in these lies and rewarded him with their fealty. “New York’s finest I love,” he remarked on August 14, accepting the endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association in New Jersey. “And you’re the finest, they just don’t let you do your job. They won’t let you do your job.” Thunderous applause greeted him. In fact, the NYPD — whose members the PBA represents — have spent years subjecting Black and Latino New Yorkers to a law-enforcement regime marked by routine violence and harassment, such that the mere act of walking down the street was functionally criminalized. Few professions enjoy such broad discretion and unaccountability. Fewer still enjoy the benefit of having their deadly fecklessness waved off as a bad round of golf. The particular incentive structure that governs gangs like the Executioners may be eye-catching in its boldness. But it also typifies policing in places where they do not proliferate so literally, where the apples rot in bunches but are rarely deemed so bad they can’t be fed to the public.
THREE DOZEN CHICAGO GANGS VOW TO ‘SHOOT ON-SITE’ ANY ARMED POLICE OFFICER
Last weekend alone, over 50 people were shot in Chicago as riots and protests continued to push through the Windy City. With another two police officers being among those shot, the Chicago Police Department is on high alert as new reports indicate 36 gangs hunting for police officers with a vow to “shoot on-site!”
First obtained by WLS-TV, the report written by the Chicago FBI office states “members of these gang factions have been actively searching for, and filming, police officers in performance of their official duties.”
According to officials, the reasoning for the surveillance is to “catch on film an officer drawing his/her weapon on any subject and the subsequent ‘shoot on-site’ of said officer, in order to garner national media attention.”
Included in the report was a list of gang factions believed to be participating. The list contained Black P Stones, El Rukns, Vice Lords, and Latin Kings. The police were informed that members of the gang factions made a pact to slay any police officer whose weapon is exposed during performance of duty.
While the source of this information is unclear, the FBI released a potential activity alert in response to receiving threats to harm or kill members of local law enforcement. For Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown, the violence happening to his officers is more than a threat, “I think 51 officers being shot at or shot in one year, I think that quadruples any previous year in Chicago’s history. So I think it’s more than a suggestion that people are seeking to do harm to cops.”
Surpassing 500 murders, Chicago is currently on track to have its deadliest year in decades. Democrat Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared more worried about gaining federal aid for the $1.2 billion budget hole than protecting the city or its officers.
Just a week ago, leaked reports indicated Mayor Lightfoot pledged $10 million to rebuild businesses damaged from looting, but only $232,760 has been granted to 77 Chicago business owners.
As many are seeing the incompetence of the Democrats, Chief Brown had a simple solution to controlling the riots in Chicago: “We need police officers, and as community members, we need to push back fervently against lawlessness.” As we’ve seen in several Democrat-controlled, that kind of reasoned and applicable statement often concludes the tenure of a police chief. We shall see…
A cute-faced mammal killing a powerful gator? Wildlife is full of surprises. How common might it be for a river otter to take on such an animal?
Otters are voracious predators, close to being apex [top predator] in most places where they live. So anywhere they overlap with gators this would be a pretty common occurrence. Still, this is impressive: That’s not a small alligator, probably three or four years old and five feet [1.5 meters] long. If that’s a male otter it might be 30 pounds. That’s a very bold animal!
How does the otter know to bite the gator behind the head?
It’s actually a learned behavior. That otter has probably tried attacking smaller ones and got some bites to learn from. Remember that crocs swing their heads side to side when they fight, so the otter wants to be entirely out of the reptile’s strike zone. Mounted on the gator’s back with teeth into the neck, that’s a smart strategy.
How does the otter actually kill the gator?
It doesn’t, not directly. First, that’s a pretty hard animal to bite through. The armor on the back is made to deflect bites from other alligators, so it’s very tough. Where the otter wins is in energy: The otter has sustainable energy, whereas the gator is like a grenade, with explosive energy that doesn’t last long. So the best tactic is to wear the gator out, which only takes a few minutes of thrashing and rolling around. Quite quickly it will be very tired, its muscles filled with lactic acid and no longer functioning. At that point it’s almost like it’s intoxicated, and the otter can then get it up on shore. The gator dies of lactic acid buildup, not from being eaten. It would take a long time to kill it that way.
So the otter eats its prey alive?
Yeah, once on shore it will rip off pieces of the hide—otters have very sharp teeth—to get to the guts and meat, the good stuff, inside. A lot of parts will end up scattered around. It’s like a lion’s kill as opposed to a snake’s. If there’s a mated pair or young otters, they’ll get a piece of it, too. It’s a good education for otter pups.
What other big animals might an otter eat?
Whatever they can catch and overpower. They are smart, agile, and strong predators. They do eat a lot of amphibians and fish, but they’ll also take out sizeable beavers, raccoons, plus snapping turtles, snakes, and small gators. Of course, gators can also eat otters, so it goes both ways!
And what else might go for a gator?
When they’re hatchlings, everything eats them. Large fish, snapping turtles, bird of prey. Bobcats and panthers and black bears can certainly eat young ones. (See video: jaguar attacks caiman.) But once the gators are good-sized, the only predator that will typically beat one is another gator. And, apparently, an otter if it’s hungry enough!
In the past months of demonstrations for Black lives, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about looting. Whether it was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying that stealing purses and sneakers from high-end stores in Manhattan was “inexcusable,” or St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter saying looters were “destroy[ing] our community,” police officers, government officials and pundits alike have bemoaned the property damage and demanded an end to the riots. And just this week, rioters have burned buildings and looted stores in Kenosha, Wis., following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, to which Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has said: “Peaceful protesting is a constitutionally protected form of free speech. Rioting is not.”
Writer Vicky Osterweil’s book, In Defense of Looting, came out on Tuesday. When she finished it, back in April, she wrote (rather presciently) that “a new energy of resistance is building across the country.” Now, as protests and riots continue to grip cities, she argues that looting is a powerful tool to bring about real, lasting change in society. The rioters who smash windows and take items from stores, she says, are engaging in a powerful tactic that questions the justice of “law and order,” and the distribution of property and wealth in an unequal society.
I spoke with Osterweil about this summer’s riots, the common narratives surrounding looting, and why “nonviolence” can be a misleading term. Our conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
For people who haven’t read your book, how do you define looting?
When I use the word looting, I mean the mass expropriation of property, mass shoplifting during a moment of upheaval or riot. That’s the thing I’m defending. I’m not defending any situation in which property is stolen by force. It’s not a home invasion, either. It’s about a certain kind of action that’s taken during protests and riots.
Looting is a highly racialized word from its very inception in the English language. It’s taken from Hindi, lút, which means “goods” or “spoils,” and it appears in an English colonial officer’s handbook [on “Indian Vocabulary”] in the 19th century.
During the uprisings of this past summer, rioting and looting have often gone hand in hand. Can you talk about the distinction you see between the two?
“Rioting” generally refers to any moment of mass unrest or upheaval.Riots are a space in which a mass of people has produced a situation in which the general laws that govern society no longer function, and people can act in different ways in the street and in public. I’d say that rioting is a broader category, in which looting appears as a tactic.
Often, looting is more common among movements that are coming from below. It tends to be an attack on a business, a commercial space, maybe a government building—taking those things that would otherwise be commodified and controlled and sharing them for free.
Can you talk about rioting as a tactic? What are the reasons people deploy it as a strategy?
It does a number of important things. It gets people what they need for free immediately, which means that they are capable of living and reproducing their lives without having to rely on jobs or a wage—which, during COVID times, is widely unreliable or, particularly in these communities is often not available, or it comes at great risk. That’s looting’s most basic tactical power as a political mode of action.
It also attacks the very way in which food and things are distributed. It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that’s unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free. [Until ‘we’ run out of other people’s money? Apparently, Ayn Rand was right–there’s 2 kinds of people in the world.]
Importantly, I think especially when it’s in the context of a Black uprising like the one we’re living through now, it also attacks the history of whiteness and white supremacy. The very basis of property in the U.S. is derived through whiteness and through Black oppression, through the history of slavery and settler domination of the country. Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that’s a part of it that doesn’t really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.
What are some of the most common myths and tropes that you hear about looting?
One of the ones that’s been very powerful, that’s both been used by Donald Trump and Democrats, has been the outside agitator myth, that the people doing the riots are coming from the outside. This is a classic. This one goes back to slavery, when plantation owners would claim that it was Freedmen and Yankees coming South and giving the enslaved these crazy ideas—that they were real human beings—and that’s why they revolted.
Another trope that’s very common is that looters and rioters are not part of the protest, and they’re not part of the movement. That has to do with the history of protesters trying to appear respectable and politically legible as a movement, and not wanting to be too frightening or threatening.
Another one is that looters are just acting as consumers: Why are they taking flat screen TVs instead of rice and beans? Like, if they were just surviving, it’d be one thing, but they’re taking liquor. All these tropes come down to claiming that the rioters and the looters don’t know what they’re doing. They’re acting, you know, in a disorganized way, maybe an “animalistic” way. But the history of the movement for liberation in America is full of looters and rioters. They’ve always been a part of our movement.
In your book, you note that a lot of people who consider themselves radical or progressive criticize looting. Why is this common?
I think a lot of that comes out of the civil rights movement. The popular understanding of the civil rights movement is that it was successful when it was nonviolent, and less successful when it was focused on Black power. It’s a myth that we get taught over and over again from the first moment we learn about the civil rights movement: that it was a nonviolent movement, and that that’s what matters about it. And it’s just not true.
Nonviolence emerged in the ’50s and ’60s during the civil rights movement, [in part] as a way to appeal to Northern liberals. When it did work, like with the lunch counter sit-ins, it worked because Northern liberals could flatter themselves that racism was a Southern condition. This was also in the context of the Cold War and a mass anticolonial revolt going on all over Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Suddenly all these new independent nations had just won liberation from Europe, and the U.S. had to compete with the Soviet Union for influence over them. So it was really in the U.S.’s interests to not be the country of Jim Crow, segregation and fascism, because they had to appeal to all these new Black and Brown nations all over the world.
Those two things combined to make nonviolence a relatively effective tactic. Even under those conditions, Freedom Riders and student protesters were often protected by armed guards. We remember the Birmingham struggle of ’63, with the famous photos of Bull Connor releasing the police dogs and fire hoses on teenagers, as nonviolent. But that actually turned into the first urban riot in the movement. Kids got up, threw rocks and smashed police cars and storefront windows in that combat. There was fear that that kind of rioting would spread. That created the pressure for Robert F. Kennedy to write the Civil Rights bill and force JFK to sign it.
But there’s also another factor, which is anti-Blackness and contempt for poor people who want to live a better life, which looting immediately provides. One thing about looting is it freaks people out. But in terms of potential crimes that people can commit against the state, it’s basically nonviolent. You’re mass shoplifting. Most stores are insured; it’s just hurting insurance companies on some level. It’s just money. It’s just property. It’s not actually hurting any people. [!?!?!?!?!!]
During recent riots, a sentiment I heard a lot was that looters in cities like Minneapolis were hurting their own cause by destroying small businesses in their own neighborhoods, stores owned by immigrants and people of color. What would you say to people who make that argument?
People who made that argument for Minneapolis weren’t suddenly celebrating the looters in Chicago, who drove down to the richest part of Chicago, the Magnificent Mile, and attacked places like Tesla and Gucci—because It’s not really about that. It’s a convenient way of positioning yourself as though you are sympathetic.
But looters and rioters don’t attack private homes. They don’t attack community centers. In Minneapolis, there was a small independent bookstore that was untouched. All the blocks around it were basically looted or even leveled, burned down. And that store just remained untouched through weeks of rioting. [Uhh…yeah they do! Your book, completed in April, is dated as these outliers have already come to pass including the vandalizing of churches and people’s homes–home invasions in quest of ‘reparations’ anticipated soon!]
To say you’re attacking your own community is to say to rioters, you don’t know what you’re doing. But I disagree. I think people know. They might have worked in those shops. They might have shopped and been followed around by security guards or by the owner. You know, one of the causes of the L.A. riots was a Korean small-business owner murdering 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, who had come in to buy orange juice. And that was a family-owned, immigrant-owned business where anti-Blackness and white supremacist violence was being perpetrated.
What would you say to people who are concerned about essential places like grocery stores or pharmacies being attacked in those communities?
When it comes to small business, family owned business or locally owned business, they are no more likely to provide worker protections. They are no more likely to have to provide good stuff for the community than big businesses. It’s actually a Republican myth that has, over the last 20 years, really crawled into even leftist discourse: that the small business owner must be respected, that the small business owner creates jobs and is part of the community. But that’s actually a right-wing myth.
A business being attacked in the community is ultimately about attacking like modes of oppression that exist in the community. It is true and possible that there are instances historically when businesses have refused to reopen or to come back. But that is a part of the inequity of the society, that people live in places where there is only one place where they can get access to something [like food or medicine]. That question assumes well, what if you’re in a food desert? But the food desert is already an incredibly unjust situation. There’s this real tendency to try and blame people for fighting back, for revealing the inequity of the injustice that’s already been formed by the time that they’re fighting.
I have heard a lot of talk about white anarchists who weren’t part of the movement, but they just came in to smash windows and make a ruckus.
It’s a classic trope, because it jams up people who might otherwise be sort of sympathetic to looters. There’s a reason that Trump has embraced the “white anarchist” line so intensely. It does a double service: It both creates a boogeyman around which you can stir up fear and potential repression, and it also totally erases the Black folks who are at the core of the protests. It makes invisible the Black people who are rising up and who are initiating this movement, who are at its core and its center, and who are doing its most important and valuable organizing and its most dangerous fighting.
One thing that you’re really careful about in your book is how you talk about violence at riots. You make the distinction between violence against property, like smashing a window or stealing something, versus violence against a human body. And I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit about why making that distinction is important to you.
Obviously, we object to violence on some level. But it’s an incredibly broad category. As you pointed out, it can mean both breaking a window, lighting a dumpster on fire, or it can mean the police murdering Tamir Rice. That word is not strategically helpful. The word that can mean both those things cannot be guiding me morally.
There’s actually a police tactic for this, called controlled management. Police say, “We support peaceful, nonviolent protesters. We are out here to protect them and to protect them from the people who are being violent.” That’s a police strategy to divide the movement. So a nonviolent protest organizer will tell the police their march route. Police will stop traffic for them. So you’ve got a dozen heavily armed men standing here watching you march. That doesn’t make me feel safe. What about that is nonviolent? Activists themselves are doing no violence, but there is so much potential violence all around them.
Ultimately, what nonviolence ends up meaning is that the activist doesn’t do anything that makes them feel violent. And I think getting free is messier than that. We have to be willing to do things that scare us and that we wouldn’t do in normal, “peaceful” times, because we need to get free.
C Davis attempts to defend against allegations of voter fraud filed by Andrew Saturn, a previously failed Socialist candidate. Mr. Davis is a fiscal conservative and heated opponent of Communism and socialist policies in government. In his election campaign for Thurston County Commissioner, he’s promised to nix the giant boondoggle of moving the County Courthouse (a massive project certain to bankrupt the County’s taxpayers for a generation) to downtown Olympia on Plum Street if elected and to boost the budget of the Sheriff’s department.
Andrew Saturn, a public figure and recently failed political candidate running on the Socialist ticket, filed a fraudulent DMCA request with GoDaddy by misrepresenting his public domain images used to promote his failed candidacy were private or not subject to fair use. Saturn/Pluto also threatened this reporter with publishing the journalist’s address if the 3 images of Saturn’s face (which Andrew cunningly omitted under Mary Hall’s incompetent oversight during the OPEN Zoom teleconference administrative hearing he orchestrated challenging Mr. C Davis’ voter registration, alleging it was fraudulent) were not removed. Since Mr. Saturn apparently believes in such transparency, his registered voter address follows, the images of his face will soon reappear after linking to an offshore repository w/o weak attempts at DMCA censorship:
Andrew G. Saturn (not a Thurston County voter), dob:1-12-85, 4819 42nd St, N, Tacoma, WA 98407 — stay tuned
–>NOTE: Lunatic Saturn sought to remove reader’s access to his extensively published mugshots as a failed Socialist candidate via false DMCA complaints. Thus, successfully gulling the incompetent administrators at SYNC.COM. i.e. Don’t entrust your files or links to these losers.
SOooo–a personal treat for Mr. Saturn: Downsize THIS LINK with your mugshots plastered all over it, DIPSTICK!
(Please note: Your reply to this article/post, including your correct e-mail, name, and bonafides to receive the password to access Mr. Saturn’s public face due to his ham handed attempt at throttling the press here by filing fraudulent DMCA claims, although, admittedly, he’s not much to look at…snail bait, mostly, is no longer applicable to the following 3 links. Currently the 3 links below do not function as a result of Saturn’s effort to squash the public’s 1st Amendment rights to hide his identity as a failed public figure. But, see the above link for a remedy and the photographic identity of Andrew Saturn, no password required). P.S. Stick it where the sun don’t shine toy boy. Bon Appetit.
1st Public Domain fair use image of public figure Andrew G. Saturn:
And HERE is a link to Andrew Saturn’s mugshot furnished to the Olympian with an eye to promote his political candidacy, followed by a link to the article in which it is embedded discusssing political dirty tricks conducted by Saturn’s campaign:
However, this video reveals a candidate (C) reacting like a cornered badger, or a driver with a body in the trunk when pulled over for a speeding ticket to questions posed by the hearing officer, Mary Hall, or interlocutor/accuser Andrew Saturn. It was tantamount to watching a train wreck…or an execution–self administered.
While the urgency of this hearing will quickly fade along with the candidacy of C Davis, it will remain a classical example of what NOT to do and how NOT to behave as either a political candidate or a litigant (criminal OR civil) in court/administrative hearings/proceedings. C, in fact, DOES reside and is domiciled at the residential property he owns (and rents out) on Bigelow across the street from the Olympia Park by the same name. He could have simply said/admitted as much as it was in the same precinct perhaps only a couple of hundred feet from where the Auditor’s office had erroneously listed his residence. C could even have said, “I don’t want to tell you because of genuine fears my political enemies will harm/kill me.”
But C didn’t do that. Instead, he was pugnacious, evasive (refusing to answer Ms. Hall’s simple query of where he resided about six times in succession), exploded out of turn, NEVER smiled (not once), was hostile, suspicious, slippery, and resentful in his demeanor throughout the hearing. C could have brought witnesses (at least one offered), as his accuser did. He could have offered his driver’s license or vehicle registration as proof of his dwelling. But, C would have none of it.
C is not a fish, but you wouldn’t know it after watching this video. He foolishly attempts to infer he’s as migratory as the denizens of the deep. He ends up being the strongest witness against his own theory of the case. He could have refused to testify at all given voter fraud is a class C (no pun intended) felony.
C could have had an attorney, or even an adroit friend, present his case without ever opening his mouth for which his supporters would (as it turns out) have been grateful.. He ignored all the best pre-hearing advice, waited until the date of the hearing to prepare for it, and wasted all the sweat, blood and tears of his supporters. In short, C blew it.
C could have moved to dismiss the investigator’s testimony as moot by simply admitting the obvious truth, that he resided on Bigelow a few feet from the address the auditor erroneously listed on his voter registration. Instead, he allowed (without objection) the investigator to drag up innuendos about a stolen drum set C had for sale, dozens of aliases and imposter identities (including their social security numbers) C had assumed over the years, painting a picture of a shady character with a checkered/mysterious past and plenty to hide.
In short, C ignored the cardinal rule for politicians and litigants–to give the appearance (at least) of transparency and let a smile be your umbrella. As it is, this public pillorying will follow C long after his political ambitions have faded. The fact Mary Hall may not be a notary public or authorized in law to administer an oath to anybody regarding their testimony is beside the point. The fact C could have raised an objection based on equitable estoppel (acting in good faith on the department’s assurances heretofore), failure to state a claim (no harm, no foul), or prevail upon appeal for a host of other procedural errors is politically moot.
In the electorate’s eyes, C is a dead man walking. C has lost all credibility where it counts most. The self administered cut runs deepest–all for want of transparency…a C-section in all but name only!
w/respect to the pedophile smear campaign & witch hunt against Davis:
C Davis is a lot of things, not all attractive, and he’s as ugly as sin…so much so he scares my wife just looking at him. But he is not a pedophile. It isn’t even alleged 20 years after the fact that he is/was or he broke the law in any fashion. No, instead, rumor and innuendo are employed to politically smear Davis with the eager support of The Olympian’s front page article complete with thinly veiled innuendo. It could as easily be a chapter straight out of Arthur Miller’s THE CRUCIBLE.
Sometimes I believe Davis could place on the Asperger’s spectrum. A review of the hearing makes this apparent. But the fact some teenage girls felt uncomfortable talking to him 20 years ago? So WHAT? Even his closest acquaintances feel uncomfortable talking to C and he feels un comfortable talking to them. Andrew Saturn cunningly exploited that flaw in Mr. Davis personality to resounding effect in his specious voter registration complaint.
The concerted political smear campaign against Davis (especially the yellow journalism evidenced in The Olympian) is nothing less than a contemporary witch hunt and virtual lynching. The oafish nature of Mr. Davis’ approach to social engagement is undeniable and apparent. He is not cool under fire or poised. He’s ugly with a funeral pallor and long unkempt stringy white hair. He’s morbidly obese, ugly as sin. So if you’re simply looking for a pretty face or another suave politician, don’t vote for him. But you’ll pay through the nose for it and get what you deserve. C is a fiscal arch conservative who believes in law and order as well as a clean environment & community. He is NO fan of state sponsored terrorism or police abuse. But you’ll have difficulty finding these facts in the local news rag (The Olympian) because witch hunts and virtual lynchings appease the mob as well as sell more newspapers.
Mobs, street violence, obsequious politicians, excessive taxes, and pork barrel boondoggles are why we can’t have nice things anymore. The mob, those who stoop to the most vile personal attacks on those with the courage to run for public office get the government they deserve. Vote your conscience and don’t be manipulated by slanderous innuendo and political smear campaigns such as The Olympian promotes. The hype surrounding these thinly veiled innuendos is much ado about nothing, bare assertions full of sound and fury signifying nothing.